Nicklas Lidstrom: The Surprise Candidate for NHL MVP

Bradley JenkinsCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2008

For those of you who follow hockey, you're engaged in the playoff races and the storylines that follow. 

Can Brodeur take his team to the Cup again? 

What about Nabokov? Giguere? Hasek? 

Will Sid the Kid be healthy and primed to bring his young Penguins team to hoist the Cup? 

What about the falling Ottawa Senators?

Team headlines aside, who are the individuals who will garner honors at season's end?  More importantly, who is your choice for the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL MVP?

Maybe you're leaning towards Evgeni Malkin, who emerged from Sidney Crosby's shadow in Pittsburgh to carry the Penguins in Sid's absence. 

Or what about Roberto Luongo, who is carrying the Canucks on his back despite some of the worst goal support in the league?

Most of you probably would go with 22-year-old Uber-star Alex Ovechkin, who's league-leading point total has his Capitals team on the cusp of their first playoff appearance since the 2002-2003 season.

What if I told you there was a certain player you haven't considered with the credentials to come out on top?

Would you consider a star who spends nearly half of each game on the ice for his team, playing on the top unit on both the power play and penalty kill?  What if I told you he ranks fourth in the league in assists, fourth in power play assists, and ranks first in the NHL with a staggering plus-41?

Maybe that's not quite enough.

What if the kicker was he was a lock to win the Norris Trophy this year as the league's top defensemen, all while captaining the team with the league's best record?

Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings has proven year-in and year-out that he is in a class of his own at his position.  He has been a poster boy for durability, missing just 18 games in his past ten seasons, with just one season under 57 points in his last 12 years.

With the dominant Swede anchoring the back line for the Wings since 1991, Detroit has been the class of the NHL, making the playoffs each year with Lidstrom, en route to the league's best record five times to go along with three Stanley Cup championships.

As the Wings prepare to finish with home ice advantage throughout the playoffs yet again, making another run for Lord Stanley's Cup, it is time to look at a player who finds himself in the thick of the race.  He's been anchoring the back line of a team ranking near the top in both special teams' categories. 

On top of that, does anyone think it's a secret that the Wings rank near the top in goals against every year, including the comfortable hold they have on first place in that department this year?

Next month Lidstrom will turn 38 years old.  Maybe it's time he adds a little variety to his trophy case, in the form of his first NHL MVP.